Range Reports

Range Report, SLOSA

I took the 20″ Musket to the a new range today to get some more testing done with the new Elcan SpecterOS. This range, the San Luis Sportsman’s Association (SLOSA), is a bit farther to get to than my normal range, which is why I have not gone to it before. However, after this range trip, I expect I’ll be going there more often. I was very impressed with the facility.

SLOSA is out towards the Morro Bay area, tucked into a valley with pretty views that remind me quite a bit of Montana. The Range Officers were friendly and helpful, and did a good job policing the range for unsafe practices. The fees are reasonable, especially for military members.

A view from the berms back toward the complex.
A view from the berms back toward the complex.

The rifle range is covered, and has berms for 15, 25, 50, 75, and 100 yards. That’s not the part I really liked, though. There are additional backing boards fixed at 150, 200, 250, and 300 yards as well as steel plates of varying sizes scattered between 105 and 700 yards. It was this last feature that had me the most excited.

IMG_0366
The view from my bench. You can see the berms for the main range, and then the far backers as well as some of the steel plates. If you follow the line up the hill, the big brown pits each held more steel silhouettes. The very top one in this picture is 400 yards.

I did a quick sight in at 25 yards using a spare box of 55gr Independence 5.56, just in case the new levers on the Elcan’s mount caused any problems, and then moved the target back to 100 for final sight in with my normal ADI 69gr SMK load. That process took all of a few minutes. And then it was off to the fun part: ringing steel.

I have not been able to shoot steel since living in Montana. There is something immensely rewarding about the immediate feedback you get when you fire a shot, see it splatter, and then hear a nice audible thud or ping. It is a visceral experience that shooting paper does not provide.

Once I established a good zero, I got off the bench and started with various positions while shooting at the steel plates 200 yards and in. This proved easy. I started working my way farther back, continuing to get that nice visceral feedback with each hit. Before I knew it, I was nailing the plates at 350, 375, and 400 yards with relative ease (as long as I did my part and focused on the fundamentals).

I did notice, throughout the day, that my sights have a consistent pop upwards and to the left as I fire. I do not think this is a flinch, but rather an indication that my position is not properly built. Perhaps my right shoulder is rolling too far back during setup, allowing the rifle to jump a bit. This jump is not significant, however, as I could still watch my impacts. I just had to reset my sight picture each time (note: this was more with shooting off the bipod than with the sling). It may also just be poor NPOA.

The glass of the Elcan impressed me today, and I am growing quite fond of the optic. For only being 4x, I am still able to see a lot of detail at ranges I did not expect. Here is a picture aiming at the 350 yard plate. Keep in mind, with the zoomed picture, that I am cropping and zooming quite a bit. Pixelation and fuzziness you might see has more to do with this crop and zoom than problems with the glass.

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Uncropped photo through the scope, taken with my iPhone 5s. Target is the 350 yard plate. There is a heavy FSB shadow in this shot, but it nowhere near as noticeable with the naked eye.
Cropped and zoomed picture of the target and reticle.

There was another individual two lanes over for me consistently hitting this target with an iron-sighted Springfield 1903A3 from the offhand position. I made sure to pick his brain for a bit.

I continued working my way up the hill towards the 400 yard target. Two years ago, if I wanted to hit a target beyond a hundred yards, I assumed I had to be in the prone position. Today, I was hitting these targets from sitting (crossed leg, crossed ankle, and open leg), squatting, and even kneeling. I also experimented with some improvised positions, such as kneeling while resting the rifle on the concrete bench, as if I was shooting off of a fence or vehicle hood. If there is any indication that I have come a long way in my abilities, it is that I am now able to confidently hit targets at these ranges from a variety of positions. The open leg position surprised me the most, as I have traditionally been ignoring it in favor of the crossed ankle position. However, the crossed ankle position showed its limitations when I needed enough elevation to aim up the hill. With the sling properly tensioned, and a nice wide positioning of my feet, open leg proved quite stable for hitting 350-400 yard targets.

I also took some shots at the 700 yard plate, something I’ve only ever attempted with a .308 and 20x powered scope. The 700 meter mark in the Elcan was a pretty damn close match for the 69gr SMK, but there was a slight wind from the 10 O’Clock that drifted my shots to the right a bit. What really impressed me about the Elcan here is that I was able to spot my own hits and misses at 700 yards with only a 4x scope. I could clearly make out dust poofs and splatters. It took four attempts, but I figured out the correct hold and had a blast.

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The 700 yard plates. There are two of them, just to the right of the ‘7’ mark on the reticle in this photo.

As I was shooting, I moved the Elcan forward one more slot on the rail (two slots available behind the optic, now). This proved to be my ideal location when tightly slung up in the SAP sling. I think this is where the scope will continue to live, as this position works fine for general use, and is the best location for eye relief when fully cinched up. It also leaves enough space behind the optic for a folded backup sight (bonus!).

In all, I’m very happy with the day. It was a nice break to get away from printing groups and move towards a more practical format for shooting. It was extremely rewarding to see how all of the work I’ve done since starting this journey has helped my skills in that practical style of shooting.

This range hosts a monthly high power match; the next one is in a couple weeks. They do not limit to service rifle configurations. I plan to attend the next match with the Musket, as configured today, and see how things go. After that match, I plan to have a complete review of the Elcan ready for posting.

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6 thoughts on “Range Report, SLOSA”

  1. “There was another individual two lanes over for me consistently hitting this target with an iron-sighted Springfield 1903A3 from the offhand position. I made sure to pick his brain for a bit.”

    As well you should. What did you learn, Dorothy? (Don’t keep us all in suspense!)

    As far as the sitting goes, cross-ankle is what I used for highpower, with a very aggressive forward lean and a canted rifle (7 o’clock hold with 1/2 to 1 minute of extra elevation and left windage), but open-leg is my go-to style for everything else. As you said, tight sling and wide-apart feet.
    Well done! Fun, ain’t it?

    1. I was thinking of writing up a new post just talking about my conversation with the guy, but I think it would be rather thin, unfortunately. He did not say anything new, really.

      He emphasized practice and fundamentals. He definitely did use the offhand style with the supporting elbow buried into his side rather than floating out in front. The supporting hand was placed just in front of the trigger guard, and the rifle rested on his finger tips. I did not note an overly obvious ‘chicken wing,’ His hips were pushed forward a bit, and his shoulders back a bit, presumably to keep the center of balance between his feet.

      I think I just need to get out and practice. I certainly did do some shooting from offhand at the same target, but my stability was nowhere near as good.

      1. He was using a target-shooter stance all right. With the sling disallowed by rules for offhand, this stance puts the rifle weight on your lower support arm a vertical position, which supports weight through the bones not muscles. The shoulders-back and hips-forward bit allows the upper support arm to rest back against the rib cage, thus removing all muscle work from the support arm. The weight goes from the hand down through the fore-arm bones into the rib cage or pelviic girdle, depending on where you can put your upper arm/elbow.

        The rifle-on-fingertips is something I tend to avoid, because the fingers can flex and are held in position by muscles, which represent a weak link. I use a flattened palm, with the wrist bent over to its maximum extent and held there by the rifle weight. However the fingertip bit seems to have been no drawback to the shooter in question.

        Funny how those fundamentals always seem to come back into play. Some folks tend to gloss them over as ‘basic’, but perhaps ‘necessary foundation’ is a better description.

      2. When I’ve done the offhand in the past, I’ve also used my palm as you describe. However, I imagine his use of finger tips in this case has more to do with the fact that the rifle had to be aimed up a solid 40 degrees or so from level, as the 350 yard target was up on the side of a hill rather than straight in front of us.

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